No, Trump didn’t just declare war on Canada, and no, we haven’t really always been at war with Canada, but who knew that we have a long running border dispute at the Maine/New Brunswick section of the border? Well, we do!
Depending on whom you ask, Machias Seal Island is either off the coast of Maine or of Grand Manan. It’s also either American or Canadian. It is the only place with this particular unsettled identity that you can actually stand on top of. Although the ownership of some stretches of water is still contested, this island—and neighboring North Rock, which is even smaller and barer—are the last crumbs of their land the two countries don’t agree on.
Stephen Kelly, a former journalist and diplomat who summers in Jonesport and is a research scholar at Duke University, has been studying this dispute for over a decade. He has built up a sense of its progression, which he says “nicely illustrates a lot of the quirks of border-making.”
The American government traces its claim to the islands back to 1783, when the Treaty of Paris assigned “all islands within twenty leagues of any part of the shores of the United States” to that country, except for those that were already part of Nova Scotia.
The Canadians have a solid counter: the 1621 land grant that established Nova Scotia, then a British colony, which included “islands … within six leagues of any part” of that province’s coast. Machias Seal Island is a little over three leagues (almost 12 miles) from both Cutler, Maine, and the southern tip of Grand Manan, a large island east of Nova Scotia, which the two countries also quarreled over for many years.
Lots more at Atlas Obscura at the link above…. it’s a fascinating little story.
Image from Atlas Obscura, whose newsletters you ought to subscribe to.